Rosie O’Donnell’s recent heart attack
scare came at a time when heart attack awareness was rather quiet. The incident served as an eye-opener, because frighteningly enough, the 50-year-old actress and talk show host did not feel any of the “traditional” heart attack symptoms. In fact, she went almost two days before seeking any medical help. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia)Heart Attacks Occur More Often than You Think
The comedian isn’t the only one to have suffered from a quiet heart attack; over 50 percent of women experience the same kind of attack. That’s precisely what makes it so dangerous. Claiming the lives of 267,000 American women every year, heart attacks and heart disease kill more women than all forms of cancer combined. As a comparison, breast cancer, which is thought to be the most common “woman-killer,” only takes around 40,800 lives each year. Hidden Symptoms
As mentioned before, heart attacks are usually nothing like the ones we see in movies. You probably won’t feel a sudden, dramatic pain that will have you clutching at your chest and crying out for help. Men and women can have their own set of symptoms; but many times, the only symptom you could feel is a slight discomfort in your chest. For men, symptoms often include stomach pains, shortness of breath, and pain in the jaw, arms and shoulders that steadily grows in intensity. For women like Rosie O’Donnell, the symptoms can be a little more subtle. Soreness in the chest, nausea, clammy skin, and lightheadedness are more common in women, and many of these symptoms can resemble the flu or a fever.
Unfortunately, women suffering from heart attacks are all too often misdiagnosed as suffering from something else . . . even by the most skilled healthcare provider. Because chest pain might not be present, doctors are more likely to think it’s something else, especially if the woman has no prior history of chest pains or diminished heart health. One study reported that women’s heart attack symptoms are unrecognized or misdiagnosed by medical staff almost 50 percent of the time. This misdiagnosis can be fatal, as inappropriate and insufficient treatments could greatly increase the risk of death.Take Action Immediately
If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, you should take immediate steps by calling 911 and taking some aspirin; the sooner you take aspirin immediately following a heart attack, the better. That’s because it reduces blood clotting and allows your blood to keep flowing through your narrowing arteries. Each minute that passes during a heart attack destroys more and more heart tissue, and the severity of the situation increases. By paying attention to your body’s symptoms, you can be aware of any sudden or growing signs of a heart attack and get help as soon as possible.Cited Sources
Learn What a Heart Attack Feels Like - It Could Save Your Life. NIH.gov
. National Institutes of Health. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/mi/heart_attack_low-lit_fs.pdf>.
"Heart Attack Symptoms: Know What's a Medical Emergency." MayoClinic.com
. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-attack-symptoms/HB00054>.